We find ourselves in January, in the middle of one of the coldest winters Colorado has seen in recent years. School mornings bring tights worn under jeans, two long sleeve shirts and snow boots are the normal footwear in our house. We're remodeling again... new carpeting and finally hardwood in my dining room and kitchen after living with carpet in there since we moved in. Sarah is growing like crazy and is beginning to sit on her own for short periods of time.
Life is passing, progressing, and there is a normalcy to it. Only it still feels a lot like someone else's life.
Where are we now?
I feel so different. I have more time on my hands but I don't manage it as well as I used to so I'm always disorganized and often in a rush. I've grown my hair longer, I cannot bear to cut the strands that Marie held every night as she went to sleep. I started doing yoga again to feel stronger, but also to combat a stiff back caused by something I cannot pinpoint. It might be stress, it might be the extra weight I carry as I find myself at the heaviest I've ever been not pregnant. It might be from the poor posture you get nursing a baby... I don't know. Yoga helps. I'm walking the dog, eating healthy, trying to get back to myself. Whoever that was, or is now.
I have pictures in mind to paint but cannot find time to put them on canvas, I have words inside me to write but often don't get them down. I still feel a little like I'm wading through mud, trying to keep up and failing miserably. I would like to think that I smile a bit more now... I would like to hope so anyway.
I don't want to become a bitter person. I want to hold on to the light and beauty and love that I learned from Marie. To continue to live as though she were still with me, to be someone my daughter would know should she come back tomorrow.
I am still a wife, and Luke is still my everything. I love him more than I did six years ago when I signed the paper to become his wife. I look at his face and see the lines around his eyes from looking into the sun, the hands that are always rough from work but have performed the gentle tasks of loving our children. I see a father who is missing his Daddy's Girl but a man who is strong for me despite that. I am blessed by him. I look at our faces in the mirror. They are so familiar, but different now somehow. Something about our eyes is so much older. We aren't quite thirty yet.
I am a mother of three. My Josie is still a streak of light and sound. Sensitive, curious and quick to argue she is rarely still. She is independent, wary of those who tell her what to do. She is always questioning and I often think of Romans 12:2 when dealing with her. She is hurting still. She misses her best friend. She rescues Marie's things, her lovies, her blankets, her trinkets and stores her treasures all up in her room. It is not the things, it is the emotion attached to them. She longs for her sister. Every night when we pray we still kiss Marie goodnight. Josie says that Marie sleeps beside her. She likes her baby sister but it's a different relationship. I do not think that anything will ever be quite like the incredibly close bond shared by Josie and Marie.
Marie, I think of her almost every second of the day. I miss her constantly. Yesterday I took Josie to gymnastics without her. It was hard. It is hard to do most everything without her. Marie and I were together constantly. I am so proud of her.
I look at pictures of her now and am amazed by her. That I was trusted with her, that she defied expectations, that God made her so beautiful. She was all dark eyelashes, golden skin, sun kissed hair, rosy cheeks. All of my daughters are beautiful but when God made Marie He really outdid Himself. I can still hear her laugh, still feel her weight, and if I think really hard still smell her smell. She smelled like that hazy hot smell of a day spent in the sunshine and something a little sweet, like strawberries. I miss her, but I am so blessed to have held her. I'm glad we were able to give her the life we did. It was a simple life but she lived where the air smelled sweet after a rain, clean after a snow, dusty in the sun. She knew grass under her feet and blue in the sky and what grapes from a vine taste like. She knew walking for ice cream, being thrown in the air by Daddy's strong arms and reading quietly and sharing secrets with her sister and best friend. She sat with me in July and we watched a thunderstorm together from the winds blowing it in to it's conclusion in a double rainbow. How many can say they've done that? She knew church every Sunday and that we loved her and Jesus did too and it was a very good life. I cry and miss her but I am so glad that she was with us for that time.
My Sarah. She has a temper. She is quick to anger, quick to forget. Easy to smile, but you have to work for her giggles. She believes she is in charge and that everyone who meets her is in love with her. She is probably right about the latter. She is strong. She stands all the time, is rolling from tummy to back when you can get her to lay down, and is beginning to sit on her own. I watch her and my heart soars that she can, and breaks a little. Marie got just that far. She could sit a little, just before she got sick. But at six months she could not do it nearly as well as Sarah can at four.
Sarah loves her thumb and will only take a pacifier occasionally. She is a very good eater and a decent sleeper and overall my easiest baby. I look at her sometimes and am sad for her as her first months are so different from my two older girls. I have been lost in grieving and trying to heal for much of it. I struggle to recall bringing her home, her first bath, those hazy baby days. I give her extra kisses now to try to make up for being so emotionally absent at the beginning.
We are doing.... doing day to day things. Remodeling, both our house and ourselves, slowly changing. Our faith is stronger. We are closer. We are constantly evolving. I think that we still live a simple life and are blessed in that. I love it here, our town, these high plains, the blue of Colorado sky, the fields, the people, our little backyard with grapevines and a swing set, our church with faded blue carpet and the most beautiful stained glass windows where we married, baptized our children and sent one home.
I look at our walls of our house and see the story of Luke and I's life together from our first baby to today... I still say life is beautiful, but it's hard.
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet